Tillman returning to Bears on one-year deal

Updated: March 14, 2014, 6:08 PM ET

By
Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on a one-year deal with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman, the team announced Friday.
Tillman’s deal is worth about $3.5 million, a league source told EPSN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.
“Charles is one of the NFL’s great players and a true leader on and off the field and we’re happy he will be staying in Chicago,” general manager Phil Emery said. “He remains the best in our game at forcing turnovers and always has brought a tough, physical presence to our secondary. Charles also has a special connection to the people and community across Chicago and we’re excited for that to continue.”

The Bears allowed Tillman to test the market in free agency, but he left Tampa Bay without a contract on Thursday. The Buccaneers were viewed as serious threats to sign Tillman because of the cornerback’s relationship with new Bucs coach Lovie Smith, with whom Tillman spent nine years in Chicago.
The Bucs, though, inked Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner to a four-year, $22.5 million contract prior to releasing veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis earlier this week.
Tillman earned a total of $8,001,575 from the Bears in 2013, and the appeal of potentially finishing his career in Chicago and not having to uproot his family likely proved to be the determining factor in him accepting far less money to play for the Bears in 2014.
The 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner, Tillman started only eight games in 2013 before going on injured reserve with a torn triceps, but he still forced six takeaways (three interceptions, three forced fumbles).
Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Tillman is one of the greatest defensive backs in Bears history. His 36 interceptions rank third in franchise history and he owns club records for interception return yards (675), interception return touchdowns (eight) and defensive return touchdowns (nine).
Tillman’s 42 forced fumbles are the second-highest total of any NFL player since he entered the league in 2003. He made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and ’12.
The Bears have ensured that both starting cornerbacks from last year will return next season. They previously signed Pro Bowler Tim Jennings to a four-year, $22.4 million deal.
ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright contributed to this report.

Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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